Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Fourteen Rides Around the Sun

Dear Satchel,

Happy 14th ride around the sun!

This birthday marks another new beginning - your very own home.  You said that you've always wanted to live in "the country" and soon that dream will come true for you.

Over this past year you've have grown so much.  You are now taller than me, and almost taller than your father.  You have grown emotionally too.  Your sense of humor is outstanding, and I will never forget how you made me laugh so hard I could barely breathe.  Your musical compositions have become so stylized and I love the "beats" you have created for your Soundcloud.  Your lego creations are always a marvel, and now you've added a new skill...modifying your Nerfs.  You remind me of your great grandfather Lenny P. who could fix nearly anything, and your grandfathers Lenny J and George, who could make almost anything.  Creativity is clearly in your genetic makeup.

I notice how you are kind to the little kids on the you take the time to play with them when they come to the door.  How you give them toys you've outgrown.  I know that they can annoy you and that you would rather do other things, but you still take the time to make happy memories for them.  This is a very special quality.

I notice your concern about the extended absence of one of your you would inquire about her health and date of return.  I noticed your relief when she did return to class.  This level of empathy is a very special quality.

I notice that you have been doing a great job of advocating for yourself, making sure that you are understood, and setting boundaries.  I heard the way you handled a friend who was being invasive, and I was impressed with your clarity of expression.  The way you said, "No, ___, that is really none of your business and I'm not okay with that".  Being able to say "no" and listening to the "no" of others is a vital skill to have.  You are mastering that skill for yourself and at the same time teaching it to your friends.

I notice that you fully understand what is inappropriate and harmful and will speak up even if it's one of your peers, even if it's an adult.  This takes courage, which you clearly have.

I notice that you still retain your sense of wonder and connection to nature.  You still enjoy catching and releasing critters.  I love how you bound in the door saying, "MOM, I caught a skink (or snake, or turtle, or toad)... can you take a picture!"  As Rachel Carson wrote, "If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year."  Clearly the good fairy has given you the gift of lifelong indestructible wonder and enchantment!

Day after day, year after year, I feel so blessed to be your mama.  The day you were born was the best day of my life.

On this 14th anniversary of your birth, may you notice all of the wonderful qualities and gifts within you.  And may you know that you are deeply loved.  I celebrate you!

 (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

Happy 14th ride around the sun, Satchel.
Thank you for being my son.

All my love,

(Posted at the time of your birth)

*To celebrate with friends, you chose not to have a party, but to go bowling and enjoy the company of your circle of friends.  Your wish is our command.


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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Goodbye 2018, Welcome 2019!

Happy Hogmanay, Silvester and New Years Eve! I've made a list of most memorable moments that happened in 2018 to light my path thru the year ahead.

1. Our first hike on Jan 1, 2018 was one of our faves, Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls.

 2. Satch went to his first protest, March for Our Lives and we were deeply moved to hear the grand daughter of MLK speak.

 3. I learned to make a decent green curry.

 4. We went to the Visionary Museum in Baltimore and back to the aquarium that my son so loves.

 5. My son took students’ rights training thru ACLU.

 6. The Nor’easter blew over us with 71 mph wind gusts at Dulles, toppling some of our town’s tall trees. We read there was 400,000 without power

 7. We went on a vernal pool expedition with a local biologist.

 8. We had good snow for sledding and a wintry bonfire - AND - we went snow tubing in the mountains with friends, The Mann Family.

 9. We hiked Cunningham Falls.

 10. We went to see the Sally Mann exhibition in DC.

 11. We explored Burke Lake.

 12. I had an art journaling day with my friend Angela where I discovered Genius Recipes.

 13. I made a magic apple cake. 14. I made a giant dream catcher for my friend Erin's, All Things Fly exhibit.

 15. I finally found the inexpensive linen sheets I had always dreamed of for summer. (Flannel bedding in the winter)

16. We hiked Sky Meadows.

17. I saw my first Lion’s Mane shroom at a local organic market, and made a delicious lunch of it.

18. Our blueberry bushes were abundant.

19. I learned how to make Bourbon Glazed donuts.

 20. The perfect wicker chair entered my life.

 21. We attended our town’s first Gay Pride festival.

 22. We camped at the Wolf Sanctuary for my son’s 13th birthday.

 23. We visited Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Refuge in NY where birds flew out of the trees to eat out of our hands and chipmunks crawled into our palms.

 24. We stopped to see Nikola Tesla’s laboratory and went for a dip in the boulder strewn LI sound at Wildwood State Park.

25. We visited friends and family to and fro our road trip thru NY.

26. We had magical summer sleepover visits from our beloved Cheryn Odolecki Bolasci and family. 

27. I made homemade jam.

 28. We learned a lot of magical things in Erin's potion making classes.

 29. We enjoyed the local fireflies and sunsets and full moons and lakeside picnics.

 30. I attended a nonviolent civil disobedience training at All Soul’s Church in DC with a brave friend, Diane.

 31. I made my very first batch of homemade Nocino.

 32. We took a dip in Kilgore Falls.

33. I finally found black and night sky hued petunias.

34. I finally made a latte heart.

35. I went kayaking with my friend Angela.

36. I learned to make an enchanting cake that looks like moss.

37. I got my official certification as a Master Naturalist from the state of Virginia.

38. We bought a piece of earth near the mountains and will begin building our home.

39. I did another pruning of the book case, uploaded my entire collection of cds to cloud, then sold and gave away the discs and my old equipment and now I feel so much lighter.

40. My son found two worm snakes, which is a big deal because they are hard to find.

41. I went to Waterford Fair with my friend Rebecca.

42. We had our annual orchard picnic with dear friends that are more like family.

43. We went to a sustainable landscaping workshop so that we can prepare for new home.

44. I made a bunch of yarn from a pile of old t-shirts leftover from other projects.

45. I went to see Eve Ensler and Anne Lamott at the Strathmore with my friend Angela.

46. I was faced with another new challenge, that I’m determined to navigate with keen intuition, fierce boundaries, professional guidance, educated steps, and artistic expression.

47. I lead another two wondrous seasons of Mighty Girl Art wherein I learn something new each time.

48. We went to the Owl Moon Raptor Festival.

49. We hiked Widewater State Park.

50. We took a trip to North Beach MD.

51. A magical tree slab table appeared in my life.

52. Went to my first Art Solar at my friend Teri's lovely home where I worked on some imagery in my art journal.

53. We had our 11th (I think) annual Solstice party, a great joy for me to have so many friends under the same roof.

54. We made spider ornaments, and all manner of wintry deliciousness.

55. I learned how to make chocolate boule which was one of my favorite treats in NYC.

56. My son said it was the best Christmas ever.

57. My longtime friend came to visit DC with her fam, and we spent the entire day wandering with them and capped it off with dinner at our favorite Jamaican restaurant.

58. We took our last hike of 2018 at Hemlock Overlook along the Occoquan River and returned to our car just as the sun was orange and dipping.

59. We went to the Harry Potter Festival aka The Festival That Cannot Be Named in Strasburg.

60. I learned to make Sfincione sans anchovies for traditional New Year’s eve pizza.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

As Only A River Can

Coming to them 
As only a river can– 
Touching every life it meets– 
That endlessly kind, that enduring.

- Mary Oliver

Last hike of 2018, before it rains again. Occoquan River, it’s an Algonquian word that means "at the end of the water".

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Body Electric: Pulse

A visit with my long time friend and her fam at the Hirshhorn for Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse and Kruger’s belief & doubt. Lunch at Museum of Native American. Afternoon at Air & Space and awe for the brave insanity of the space program. Dinner at Sandovan. Laughter. Memories. Conversations about Oumuamua, Fibonacci and the mysterious order of things, coincidence and congruence, and Jung’s Red Book as a devotional, and tsutsugamushi and the importance of human intuition in medicine. And missing her. And gratitude for the way our friendship spans time.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Sleigh Has Landed

"It is in the imagination with which you perceive this world, 
and the gestures with which you honor it." - Mary Oliver.

Our annual Solstice party was delightful and in a blink it was Xmas. I made all mater of tasty eats during our winter break.  We had Marcella Hazan's cabbage soup on xmas eve, Chocolate bread, hot out of the oven Xmas morn and our usual Tomato Risotto for xmas Eve.  The jolly ole elf waited til near midnight to be sure the mancub was asleep before placing gifts beneath the tree. My son bounded into my room at 3:23 am squealing, “MOM wait til you see what Santa left in my stocking!” I mumbled that I was happy but go back to bed until daylight. He went back to bed then was up at 5 am. I finally crawled out of bed near 7, made myself a giant latte sprinkled with juniper sugar and watched him merrily unwrap his gifts.


Decking the halls...

Glass hinged ornaments to contain the tiny fallen nests I found. 

S is making me a spider ornament for xmas!
He said it was the best xmas ever.

Latte with juniper sugar sprinkle.

The best red lentil curry.

Galaxy smoothy bowl.

Tea from Myri

Grape Salsa!

To you and yours.

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Time and Place

I will no longer be silent.  I will open my mouth and let the bees fly out.  Making all the things that I that represent the words.  Building metaphorical bridges to take me where I want to go.



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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Exploring North Beach

Trails were slick with mud so we drove to North Beach, MD to breathe in the Chesapeake Bay air.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Tis the Season....

And so it begins!  Holiday Parade. Tree lighting ceremony tonight in town center. A holiday hike this weekend.


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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wide Water State Park

We decided to explore a new state park that I read about called Wide Water State Park.  It did not disappoint!  On the way back to the car, we found a bone.

Butterfly Pea Flower tea.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. Most people think of domestic violence as physical abuse. But there is another form of violence against women that is equally harmful, yet invisible. Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence. Financial abuse is controlling, demoralizing and chips away at a woman's self esteem. Financial abuse causes fear, and anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma.

 A few examples of financial abuse are:

  • Not including you in financial decisions. 
  • Not telling you about bonuses or financial gain. 
  • Not providing a joint bank account. 
  • Not giving you access to finances, ie. not putting you on his bank account, making you have to ask for money. 
  • Taking money that belongs to you without your permission. 
Most victims of financial abuse suffer in silence, learn the warning signs and offer support. If she reaches out to you, here's how to talk to someone who is being financially abused:

  • Let her know this is a judgment-free conversation and she is not alone. 
  • Offer your support. 
  • Listen 
  • "I know this is difficult to discuss, but please know you can talk to me about anything." 
  • "You are not alone. I care about you, and I'm here for you, no matter what." 
  • "You are not responsible for what's going on." 
  • "No matter what you did, you do not deserve this." 
  • Do not hijack the conversation to talk yourself. 
  • If you've experienced abuse in a past relationship now is not the time to compare and contrast your experience with hers, ie. "my ex took my entire savings" or "my pushed me off the steps". This isn't about who had it worse, it's about supporting a victim who reached out to you. 

For more information about Financial Abuse, where to seek help or to help some one you know, click on the photo above. You are not alone


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Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Dear 55 year old me,

Happy re-birthday. You've been through a lot of crap in your lifetime, but you have always made it to the other side intact, and stronger for it. Not to bypass the suffering in any way, you didn't deserve any of that. You won't hear me say "there's a reason for everything" or it's part of God's plan". I know that you won't bow to any God who harms. Maybe we should rethink the adage "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" because scar tissue is dead tissue and that's the reality even though the divine body has ways of compensating for injury. Bless the scars! Bless not the scar-makers, for they can go suck it! 

I admire your way of looking at the big picture and trying to find the right path forward, without insulting your soul in the process. I admire your humanness, your raw honesty, and your strong boundaries, your creativity, your determination and your kindness.  You navigate challenges by feeling all the feels in that moment so you can step over them and keep moving, rather than swallowing and silencing and carrying their weight. You have keen intuition, because you have learned the language of your body, the voice without words and you allow this to guide you. 

You have learned that there are tricksters, some quite obvious, and others who somehow evade your radar. It's not because you invite them - no - or because you are naive - no - it's because masks make it difficult to read faces. But masks do slip eventually, and then you see clearly the shadow behind it. Remember this, in those rare and shocking encounters, these shadow beings have never been able to steal your muchness, your passion, your creativity, your sense of wonder, your truth, your love of nature, and your pursuit of beauty. At most, these shadow beings have left behind a wall of scar tissue on the area of trust. But don't forget there are nanotubes, between scar tissue and healthy heart cells, which electrically unite. The scar wall will protect you, and the nanotubes will connect you to truth.

Use your tools skillfully, calling into circle the trustworthy souls that care about you and the safety and the truth telling and the insight. When in doubt consult. You are wiser than you know, it's just that you are unable to see where this odd, unfamiliar and unconventional path is taking you. It's not a clear or easy path. There has been, there is, and there will still be obstacles. You will navigate them, as you have always done. Assess the terrain. Look for the markers. Trust the knowing.

Don't lose yourself on this, the maker of all manner of things, you are the mama bear that gathers and shares, you of the mountains and the Manahatta, you healer of foxes and sniffer of flowers, you holder of stunned birds, you advocate of spiders and speaker for trees. 

Go ahead - Open your mouth and let the bees fly out, most bees are female, they only sting when threatened. Remember to eat the cake and howl at the moon with your pack who loves you. On this, your 55th ride around the sun, may you hug all the years you've lived and love all the hers who've come before and especially the her riding this twirling chunk of space rock right now. She deserves it.  

To thine own self be true,

Rough draft: "I Open My Mouth and Let the Bees Fly Out" W.Cook ©2018


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Friday, July 06, 2018

Kingdom of Swoon

Kayaking Lake Newport at Sunset was breathtakingly beautiful!  The bats, oh the bats!

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Thirteen: Sleeping with Wolves & Other Birthday Adventures

As part of our son's 13th birthday rites of passage, we took him to NY for a sleepover with wolves.  It was unforgettable!

The wolf conservation center’s mission is to save wolves from extinction while educating humans about their essential purpose and debunk the myths you may have heard about them. This is not a place to get your photo taken with a drugged wild animal. We don’t support those immoral roadside attractions. At the WCC the only thing between 30 acres of wolf territory and you is a chain link fence. What that means is, while you will likely not see all 51 wolves, you WILL hear them loud and clear as they are often nearby in the brush. Wolves are wild animals and naturally afraid of humans. However, there are 4 teacher wolves who have been conditioned to humans so they will visit you near the fence, close enough to smell their wild breath. They will nap near you, and sing near you for their medicine is to teach you. They are free to roam so when they wish to leave you, they will do so at will. Because the 4 teacher wolves have been conditioned to accept humans, it also makes them the most dangerous because they are unafraid. Therefore no hands on the fence EVER. If a teacher wolf were to bite a human, it would have to be killed. The WCC is trying to protect wolves because they are endangered, it would be devastating to lose a teacher wolf due to human carelessness. The last wild wolf in NY state was killed in 1890. That should give you a clear picture of our inhumanity. For more information about WCC and all their hard work to save these soulful creatures, please visit their website. If you are able, book a sleepover there. You won’t be disappointed. The guides are friendly animal scientists and conservationists. They are a wealth of information and empathy. And the howling will touch something deep inside you, and you will leave changed, and awestruck.

The next day we drove out Long Island to visit Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Refuge where birds fly out of the trees to eat out of your hands, and chipmunks crawl into you palm.  We went for a dip at Wildwood State Park, a beach I went to with my late father. We would gather all sorts of cool stones to take home and polish. It’s a rocky beach with gorgeous bluffs. I wanted to bring my son there on father’s day in memory of my dad.  On the way back we stopped by Wardenclyffe the lab of Nikoli Tesla.  We stopped to visit with friends and family in between adventures.

Tesla is his fave, and he wanted to take a selfie there.

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